There is a great football game tonight, and I am not talking about the debut of Brady Quinn. That one will be interesting, and it will be easy to find, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Thursday’s real gem – Utah at home against TCU. Not convinced that this is the game of the night? Here are eight reasons you should be:
1. Utah Defense – The Utes have one hell of a defense. They hold their opposition to less than 100 yards per game on the ground, and they are ranked seventh overall in the country. The Frogs will have to work hard to score on this team.
2. TCU defense – If the Utes have a good defense, the the Frogs have a great one. They have the second best defense in the country, and they are truly other-worldly against the run – giving up just 37.8 yards per game. This is a good, old fashioned smash mouth defense. They have given up more than 14 points just once, and that was against Oklahoma so there is no shame in that. This game should be a defensive clinic.
3. The stakes – This is a truly massive game. If TCU wins they clinch their conference. A Utah win puts them in good shape to do the same. That’s not the most important part, though. The winner of this game is likely to be the highest ranked non-BCS team. Utah already is. There is probably only room for one BCS buster this year, and the winner of this one will have an edge over Boise State to be that team. This game is huge, and the teams will be very jacked up for it.
4. TCU penalty meltdowns – The Frogs are the most penalized team in the country. They are so aggressive on defense that they can’t control themselves. They give up more than 80 yards per game, and they are likely to give up even more here because they are going to be on edge.
5. TCU’s treatment of bettors – The Frogs are 7-2 ATS. They are a nice team to bet on. They have gone under in five of their last seven games, too.
6. Andy Dalton – TCU’s quarterback had a decent start, but then he was hurt in the Oklahoma game. Since coming back from that injury he has been superhuman. He has nine touchdowns without an interception in his last three games. He’s been confident and effective, and he should be ready to challenge the Utes defense.
7. Hughes v. Johnson – Utah’s Brian Johnson is a solid, impressive QB, though he has a bad tendency to make mistakes when he is pressured. TCU’s Jerry Hughes is leading the country in sacks with 14. Johnson is going to be running for his life. His ability to handle that with composure will determine the fate of his team.
8. Utah coming off a letdown – The Utes squeaked past New Mexico 13-10 last week. They were clearly looking ahead to this game. That makes this game interesting in two ways – we get to see how they bounce back, and if you are a Utah backer you probably get some extra value because of the close call. After all, this is an undefeated home team that is an underdog.